Item description for The Kingdom of God Is Within You (Dover Value Editions) by Leo Tolstoy & Constance Garnett...
Banned in Russia, Tolstoy's "The Kingdom of God Is Within You" was deemed a threat to church and state. The culmination of a lifetime's thought, it espouses a commitment to Jesus's message of turning the other cheek. In a bold and original manner, Tolstoy shows his readers clearly why they must reject violence of any sort--even that sanctioned by the state or the church--and urges them to look within themselves to find the answers to questions of morality. In 1894, one of the first English translations of this book found its way into the hands of a young Gandhi. Inspired by its message of nonresistance to evil, the Mahatma declared it a source of "independent thinking, profound morality, and truthfulness." Much of this work's emotional and moral appeal lies in its emphasis on fair treatment of the poor and working class. Its view of Christianity, not as a mystic religion but as a workable philosophy originating from the words of a remarkable teacher, extends its appeal to secular and religious readers alike.
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Reviews - What do customers think about The Kingdom of God Is Within You (Dover Value Editions)?
Insightful Mar 28, 2008
I recommend reading Tolstoy's "What I Believe" before you read this work. Both books establish, better than any other book I've read, the corruption of the apparent task of all organized religion by its assimiluation into civil government.
This book, written seven years after "What I Believe" is Tolstoy's appologic for his first work. I believe the five reasons Tolstoy listed, which showed how his thoughts were rejected, proved to me the weakness of Tolstoy's argument. His argument in What I Believe was based on scripture. He was saying my interpretation of scripture is better than the churchs' interpretation (and application).
It is because there is no resolution to finite mankind attempting to define and interpret an infinite "god" is why we have more than 2,800 religious organizations. It is circuitous logic to think a finite book can be elevated to prove the existence of an infinite god. It is also why the leaders of organized religion, in their pride, elevate their beliefs about an infinite god to be a fact of life. By the corruption of the religions' supposed purpose with civil government, which enables them to use force to impose their will on others, the peoples of the world live in strife.
I have a blog at "[...]" under the name lawrenceindestin where my essay attempts to develop this topic further.
The Kingdom of God is Within You Mar 9, 2008
Tolstoy lived in an era when words were used to show pictures, and being succint was unheard of. Though I have enjoyed other of Tolstoy's writings, this one is an extremely laborious read! I am not sure where Ghandi got his inspiration from it. Good luck!
Dover edition is supreme Jan 29, 2008
Of the several printed editions of this work I've run into, the Dover paperback version, with the Kramskoi portrait on the cover, must surely be favorite. In addition to the handsome appearance and overall intelligently-handled, easily-managed design, the printing is immensely competent -- I found one error in 350 pages, as opposed to, to take one example, the Kessinger edition, which contained about an error per paragaph, to say nothing of its unwieldy design, its cost -- twice that of the Dover edition -- and its frankly ugly yellow-and-white cover. (Tolstoy admittedly wouldn't have cared much what his book looked like, as long as people read it.) Also: the Dover edition includes an introduction which helps place the work in context, drawing on recollections from Tolstoy's son, Ilya. The Dover edition seems to be somewhat hidden on the site; if there is no 'This review is from' tag at the top of this review, hopefully it can be found here: The Kingdom of God Is Within You (Dover Value Editions), but, if that doesn't work, and nothing I do ever does, a search for the title and author with 'Dover' appended should do the trick.
The translation is from 1894, by Constance Garnett. I am not aware of any other English translations in existence; in any case, this one is perfectly adequate.
As for the text itself, it is of course great beyond my poor power to add or detract. Perhaps it is possible to have a legitimate claim to being a real human without having read this book, but I don't see how. You and everyone you know should read it immediately.
Prophetic, powerful...a call to a different life... Dec 12, 2007
Let me start by sharing one passage from the book:
"All the material improvements that religious and scientific men can dream of may be accomplished; all men may accept Christianity, and all the reforms desired by the Bellamys may be brought about with every possible addition and improvement, but if the hypocrisy which rules nowadays still exists, if men do not profess the truth they know, but continue to feign belief in what they do not believe and veneration for what they do not respect, their condition will remain the same, or even grow worse and worse. The more men are freed from privation; the more telegraphs, telephones, books, papers, and journals there are; the more means there will be of diffusing inconsistent lies and hypocrisies, and the more disunited and consequently miserable will men become, which indeed is what we see actually taking place.
All these material reforms may be realized, but the position of humanity will not be improved. But only let each man, acording to his powers, at once realize in his life the truth he knows, or at least cease to support the falsehoods he is supporting in the place of the truth, and at once, in this year 1893, we should see such reforms as we do not dare to hope for within century--the emancipation of men and the reign of truth upon earth.
Not without good reason was Christ's only harsh and threatening reproof directed against hypocrites and hypocrisy. It is not theft nor robbery nor murder nor fornication, but falsehood, the special falsehood of hypocrisy, which corrupts men, brutalizes them and makes them vindictive, destroys all distinction between right and wrong in their conscience, deprives them of what is the true meaning of all real human life, and debars them from all progress toward perfection."
This is a great book. It is a book that calls us to a new life. Tolstoy was a visionary in that he looked back to the example of Christ while boldly moving forward as best he knew how.
May the same be said of us all.
Constance Garnett's translation is clear and readable. Though I wonder what Richard Pevear might make of this in translation (hopefully, we will someday see).
Get a copy of this book. I checked it out of my library, but this is one I want a copy of--to turn to again and again.
A classic of theological insight Nov 5, 2007
This book is one of the first to really change my outlook on many subjects related to Christ, Christianity, Anarchy, Existentialism, Personal Responsibility, etc. Everyone should know about Tolstoy. If you think you understand the world or you think things are a bit strange here, either way this book is for you.